Crisis in Venezuela

CLP Current Event: February 5, 2019

The events in Venezuela constitute a political and humanitarian crisis challenging the rule of law. Find out what is happening with this week’s CLP Current Event.

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.

News Sources

Venezuelans March as Guaidó and Maduro Vie for Legitimacy, by Andrew Rosati and Alex Vasquez, Bloomberg, February 2, 2019
The protest was another test of endurance of support for Guaidó. Though Maduro has prevented Guaido from leaving the country, he has left him free to make pronouncements, speak with foreign leaders and hold daytime rallies. At the same time, Maduro has sought to tamp them down through information blackouts, intimidation and violence.”

Struggle for control of Venezuela returning to the streets, by Alexandra Olson & Adriana Gomez Licon, The Associated Press, February 1, 2019
“Momentum is growing for Venezuela’s opposition movement led by lawmaker Juan Guaidó, who has called supporters back into the streets for nationwide protests Saturday, escalating pressure on embattled President Nicolás Maduro to step down. A defiant Maduro’s socialist government has called on its own loyalists to flood the streets waving flags to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Bolivarian revolution launched by the late Hugo Chávez.”

Venezuela’s Crisis Reveals Disputes Among Power Brokers at Home and Abroad, by Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, The New York Times, January 31, 2019
“The political establishment is fractured. Foreign governments, including the United States and Russia, hold conflicting, zero-sum agendas that prevent them from coming together. Even Venezuelan citizens — who would have to be sold on any new government for it to survive — remain divided. Some, particularly among the poor, still back the ideals of Mr. Maduro’s mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chávez.”

Russia and China condemn new US sanctions on Venezuela, by Holly Ellyatt, CNBC, January 29, 2019
The U.S. administration announced sanctions against the state’s dominant energy firm PDVSA on Monday in a bid to damage the socialist dictator, PresidentNicolás Maduro, who is clinging to power amid a leadership battle. Last week, the opposition leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, named himself interim president after street protests against Maduro. The U.S. recognized that claim and has been encouraging support for regime change in Venezuela, a country hit by the economic policies of Maduro.”

Venezuelans “under Maduro dictatorship’ – Juan Guaidó, BBC News, January 29, 2019
“’My duty is to call for free elections because there is an abuse of power and we live in a dictatorship,’ Mr. Guaidó said. He added: ‘In Venezuela, we either accept domination, total oppression and torture… from Maduro’s regime, or we choose freedom, democracy and prosperity for our people.’”

Thousands more leave Venezuela amid new crisis, by Angelica M. Casas and John Landy, BBC, January 27, 2019
“Venezuela’s political crisis has deepened. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has declared himself interim president following large protests, galvanising opponents of current socialist President Nicolás Maduro.”
CLP: Video

“Enough already!” Venezuela’s highest ranking military diplomat breaks with Maduro, by Antonio Maria Delgado, Miami Herald, January 26, 2019
“The military attaché at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, Col. José Luis Silva, broke with the Nicolás Maduro regime Saturday and urged other armed forces members to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of the South American nation.”

Putin Backs Maduro, As Kremlin Critics Cheer U.S. Support For Venezuela’s Opposition, by Lucian Kim, NPR, January 25, 2019
If Cuba was the Kremlin’s closest ally in Latin America during the Cold War, now it’s Venezuela, whose vast oil wealth gives Russia direct influence over an OPEC member. That Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chávez, was stridently anti-American made Venezuela the ideal partner.

Pompeo taps Elliott Abrams as State Department Venezuela point person, by Tal Axelrod, The Hill, January 25, 2019
“’This crisis in Venezuela is deep and difficult and dangerous and I can’t wait to get to work on it,’ said Abrams, who will travel Saturday with Pompeo to the U.N. Security Council for a session on Venezuela.”

Questions to Consider

  • Where is Venezuela? Why is it in the news?
  • Who is in charge of the government?
  • What is a “legitimate” government?
  • What is the role of the military in supporting the current government? What is the role of the military in supporting a new government?
  • Who is Nicolás Maduro?
  • Who is interim President Juan Guaidó?
  • Who was former President Hugo Chávez?
  • What is the political situation?
  • Might the current crisis lead to a transition to democracy? How would that happen? What are the obstacles to democratic reforms? How did Venezuela’s history influence its current difficulty?
  • What is the economic situation? How important is oil in sustaining economic well-being? What is a petrostate? What is inflation?
  • Is this a humanitarian crisis as well as a governmental crisis?
  • Why are crowds protesting?
  • Is this a proxy war between the United States and Russia?
  • How are Venezuela’s neighbors reacting to unrest in Venezuela?
  • Ten Questions About Venezuela

Background and More

Venezuela: All you need to know about the crisis in nine charts, by the Visual Journalism Team, BBC, February 4, 2019
CLP: Charts cover everything from GDP and inflation to food shortages and malaria.

I Commanded the U.S. Military in South America. Deploying Soldiers to Venezuela Would Only Make Things Worse, by James Stavridis, TIME, January 31, 2019

Pundit explains the political crisis in Venezuela, Nighttalk with Aubrey Masango, 702 Live, January 29, 2019

Venezuela: The Rise and Fall of a Petrostate, by Rocio Cara Labrador, Council on Foreign Relations, January 24, 2019

Lesson Plans

With the economy in freefall, Venezuela faces humanitarian crisis, PBS Newshour Extra
CLP: Grades 7-12

Constitutional and Legal Connections

Venezuela does not need another charismatic strongman, by Maryhen Jimenez Morales, Al Jazeera, January 28, 2018
CLP: Opinion

Is it legal for Juan Guaidó to be proclaimed Venezuela’s interim president?, by Camille Bello, euronews, January 27, 2019

Constitutional history of Venezuela,

Oregon Connections

Venezuela’s Voice in Oregon

Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.8 Evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives.
8.21 Analyze important political and ethical values such as freedom, democracy, equality and justice embodied in documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
HS.28 Evaluate how governments interact at the local, state, tribal, national, and global levels.
HS.31 Describe United States foreign policy and evaluate its impact on the United States and other countries.
HS.33 Explain the role of government in various current events.
HS.35 Examine the pluralistic realities of society (e.g., race, poverty, gender and age), recognizing issues of equity, and evaluating need for change.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.

We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 6, Lesson 28: What is the relationship of the United States to other nations in the world?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 30: How might citizens participate in civic affairs?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 6, Lesson 34: What is the importance of civic engagement to American constitutional democracy?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 37: What key challenges does the United States face in the future?